Dementia: Will I Get It?
by Loring A. Windblad
In the article Dementia: Just What Is It, we have learned about
a frightening term, Dementia, and just what it is or, rather,
how it manifests itself in the human condition. I gave 5
examples from my personal knowledge, including myself.
It would appear that "Dementia", in its milder forms, is nothing
more than a mild loss of memory. In its more severe, but still
mild, forms, it can take the guise of mild disorientation;
sometimes so mild that one is not even aware of being
disoriented. The milder cases were likely referred to in olden
times as "senility". Something none of us ever aspired to.
However, there is a new body of information accumulating, and
now published, which indicates that "dementia" could be the
result of a natural condition, and which, if true, puts at least
half of the North American population "at risk"!
What is that condition? It is "obesity" and it is rampant in
North America, affecting at some estimates upwards of 60% of the
population. And, according to a recent study published in the
British Medical Journal, it is particularly harmful to people in
the 40's and up. The study tracked 10,000 men and women over a
period of 27 years.
US scientists found people who were obese and between the ages
of 40 and 45 were 74 per cent more likely to have dementia later
in life compared to those of "normal" weight. And its worse for
women: women were 200 per cent more likely to have dementia if
they were obese in their 40's.
Another downer: overweight people generally were 35 percent more
likely to have the brain illness (or condition).
According to Rachel A. Whitmer, a research scientist at Kaiser
Permanente, a non-profit medical group in Oakland, CA, "We're
having an epidemic of obesity that we've never seen before and
we know it causes a wide variety of illness. And now we can add
to the list. We are going to see an unprecedented increase in
dementia as the baby boomers age."
It's not known whether people can lower their risk of dementia
if they lose the excess weight, "but that's one of the
implications of the study," Whitmer says.
In addition, two smaller studies also found signs of brain
atrophy, or shrinkage, among women with a high body mass index
(or BMI - a measure of body fat based on a ratio of weight to
height). A normal BMI is between 18.6 and 24.9.
Finally, a recent Swedish study found a high BMI in old age is
associated with an increased risk of dementia in women.
OK, the jury is still out. Is it guaranteed that just being
overweight means I will get dementia? And, is this a "disease"
or is it a "condition of imbalance". Finally, in either case,
can it be corrected and if so, how? Will it respond to diet?
Will it respond to aromatherapy? Will it respond only to medical
(read that chemical") intervention? Interesting questions for
future articles on Dementia so stay tuned.
Loring Windblad has studied nutrition and exercise for more than
40 years, is a published author and freelance writer. Contact
June or Loring at